O texto completo mantenho em todos os meus gadgets, vale sempre a releitura. Hoje, particularmente, precisei relê-lo várias vezes. Extraio essa pequena parte que dá uma boa idéia do todo.
“Twenty years ago the following scene took place in one of the numerous prison yards of northern Russia. At seven o’clock in the morning the door of a cell was flung open and on its threshold stood a prison guard who addressed its inmates: “Citizens! The collective of this prison’s guards challenges you, the inmates, to socialist competition in cutting the lumber amassed in our yard.” In those parts there is no central heating, and the local police, in a manner of speaking, tax all the nearby lumber companies for one tenth of their produce. By the time I am describing, the prison yard looked like a veritable lumber yard: the piles were two to three stories high, dwarfing the onestoried quadrangle of the prison itself. The need for cutting was evident, although socialist competitions of this sort had happened before. “And what if I refuse to take part in this?” inquired one of the inmates. “Well, in that case no meals for you,” replied the guard.
Then axes were issued to inmates, and the cutting started. Both prisoners and guards worked in earnest, and by noon all of them, especially the always underfed prisoners, were exhausted. A break was announced and people sat down to eat: except the fellow who asked the question. He kept swinging his axe. Both prisoners and guards exchanged jokes about him, something about Jews being normally regarded as smart people whereas this man…and so forth. After the break they resumed the work, although in a somewhat more flagging manner. By four o’clock the guards quit, since for them it was the end of their shift; a bit later the inmates stopped too. The man’s axe still kept swinging. Several times he was urged to stop, by both parties, but he paid no attention. It seemed as though he had acquired a certain rhythm he was unwilling to break; or was it a rhythm that possessed him?
To the others, he looked like an automaton. By five o’clock, by six o’clock, the axe was still going up and down. Both guards and inmates were now watching him keenly, and the sardonic expression on their faces gradually gave way first to one of bewilderment and then to one of terror. By seven-thirty the man stopped, staggered into his cell, and fell asleep. For the rest of his stay in that prison, no call for socialist competition between guards and inmates was issued again, although the wood kept piling up.”